Political Gossip, Satire, and Analysis from MT's Capital City "...an uncanny knack for sharp insider information..."--AP "...amazingly accurate inside info..."--Politico.com "...a viral sensation..."--Markos Moulitsas, Daily Kos "Among the best state-based political blogs in the nation."--Washington Post
Lots of right-wing activity and even some racism lately has been seen on the Flathead reservation.
Two groups of TEA Partiers have come to town, stirring up sentiments against tribal sovereignty in hopes of obstructing a water rights agreement that the tribes negotiated with the state of Montana. One group is called the Western Montana Water Users Association and the other Concerned Citizens of Western Montana. Their donors are anonymous and they haven’t filed anything with the Political Practices office.
The head of the first group is Steve Killorn, a conficted felon (“tampering with public records.”) If you click here you can see his picture on the MT Correctional Offender Network website.
The head of the second group–is Terry Backs, founder of the the Lake County Tea Party. Backs is a big Chuck Baldwin acolyte and has rallied the TEA Party under the “Concerned Citizens” banner. Baldwin is the right wing of the right wing of the right wing in Montana, and preaches white supremacy dressed up as politics. But as Terry Backs told PBS, she felt Baldwin’s bunch didn’t have enough “bite” and splintered off to form a new even more conservative group.
A third Tea Party ring leader is part of the action as well. She is Catherine Vandemoer, who is pictured here at a WMWUA meeting. Vandemoer’s blog is pretty much arepository of the most ludicrous birther arguments: Secret codes that show Obama’s birth certificate is a “definite forgery,” Hawaii was a communist outpost, etc. Vandemoer is a “consultant” to the Concerned Citizens group, to whom presumably the wackier the birtherism the better. Vandemoer’s writings are often skewered in the aptly named “Dispatches from Birtherstan” column on the birther mythbusters blog Bad Fiction. The blog’s comments are filled with blatant racism, anti-semitism, and fear of “commies” (the term refers to any non-birther).
UPDATE #2: It now appears that Vanoemoer has password protected the blog post I linked to after she took down post shown in the google cache link above, so, here’s the google cached version of the second post.
But, we do know that there are racists taking part in the political activity there. At a recent meeting, a tape recorder was accidentally left on. Two elected officials whose campaigns were backed by WMWUA were caught on tape discussing Indian people “in very ugly tones, with one of the new leaders declaring that Indians weren’t Americans and others making similar statements.” This certainly makes them the number one suspect in the racist flyers incident, but it doesn’t prove they did it.
Miele sees Wagner’s birther bill as eminently reasonable and necessary, and he was outraged at what he saw as Cooper’s shameful and biased treatment of Wagner. In Miele’s view, the CNN interview was an “ambush…by a left-wing extremist”, with Cooper doing nothing other than trying to insinuate that Wagner “has a vendetta against President Obama — when in fact the law would be applied equally to all candidates, and would neither target nor favor Obama.”
Rather than print multiple excerpts, I will suggest that you read the full idiotic column to fully appreciate it, but I warn you that you will shudder to think that on a daily basis, this man is the arbiter and shaper of the majority of print-news that is consumed by voters in the Flathead Valley. And there is one juicy plum, toward the end of Miele’s editorial rant, which I will definitely print here. This must have made even a good percentage of Republican readers cringe:
“If you want to take the time to research this, you will see that there is considerable reason to believe that in 1961 it would have been possible to register the birth of a baby even if he was not born in Hawaii.”
And so, even though I don’t like to say I-told-you-so, it is important that I do so here. When you all read here, back during the 2010 campaign, that the reporting in the Flathead Valley was all very pro-Republican and candidates like Derek Skees were getting free rides because the media up there were suppressing evidence of their extremism, now you know what I was talking about. The Daily Inter Lake’s political coverage must be presumed to be Fake Flathead News, all the way.
And while Miele wrote his editorial because he wanted us all to believe that it is Anderson Cooper, not Bob Wagner, who is the nut-job, in fact it is Miele and the ownership of the Daily Inter Lake who allows him to run the paper, who are the nuts-jobs.
From time to time I hear rumors of progressives with deep pockets who are sniffing around the state, trying to gage the market for a new daily newspaper, statewide, that would combat the right wing rags. The Flathead Valley should be their number one target.
It was a fun week all around for Tea Party loons in Montana. First, to court we go.
Boniek, and some courtroom drama
Yesterday, Tea Party leader Joel Boniek appeared in court in Livingston, to answer for his arrest earlier this year at a traffic stop. You will recall that a few months back, Boniek was detained by a cop at a traffic stop, appeared to then fondle a pistol in his clothing to try to scare the officer, and then ran the roadblock. Boniek is a former legislator and ran for Lt. Governor this year. He rides his mule to work sometimes.
As any good Tea Partier knows, when you have a date before a judge, the best way to win your case is to bring an angry mob of lunatics with you to court, to heckle the judge and prosecutor. This is what Boniek did, and a hilarious scene ensued. As the Livingston Enterprise reported, Boniek showed up and refused to recognize the authority of the prosecutor or judge, the crowd of foaming imbeciles hooting and hollering encouragement. Boniek then tried to prevent the prosecutor from making an opening statement, saying, “Your honor, why is this woman even speaking to me if she can’t prove she’s a public official?” Boniek, like many wing-nuts, believes that neither a prosecutor nor judge has jurisdiction over a citizen unless she can “prove to they have taken an oath.” Oatherism, let’s call it.
Then things really got fun. The raucous crowd began heckling the judge, and so the judge and prosector got up and left the courtroom. At that point, Boniek stood up and declared that he was “now in charge of the court.”
“The judge abandoned the courtroom and I announced the case dismissed as the last man standing,” Boniek later explained to an Associated Press reporter. A bailiff who remained in the courtroom told Boniek that he was mistaken, that he had no authority and that he better take his angry mob and leave. Frighteningly, the bailiff saw a lump under Boniek’s clothing and asked him whether it was a firearm, and Boniek refused to answer. At some point the mob and Boniek finally went home. The charges remain.
Birther at Helena IR
Speaking of Oatherism, you will be happy to know that its better known cousin, Birtherism, is alive and well in Montana–and is being practiced by the editorial staff of the Helena Independent Record.
For those that did not see the item on A Chicken is Not Pillage, in Sunday’s IR there was a news article, written by a national AP reporter, which stated that President Obama was “allegedly born in Hawaii.” Naturally, the Associated Press writer wrote no such thing. The draft of the story that the IR received from the AP did not use the world “allegedly.” Instead, the editorial room of the Independent Record took it upon itself to insert the qualifier–since, as we all know, the place of Obama’s birth has never been proven, right?
“That right-wing notion [that the president isn't a U.S. citizen] has been so thoroughly discredited that only Donald Trump and assorted other loonies still cling to it. Neither the AP nor – I hope – The Independent Record belongs in their company.”
The IR had to do damage control, and a small retraction note was printed on the following Tuesday in which the paper claimed that a copy editor in the newsroom had merely played a prank by inserting the word “allegedly,” believing that his fellow copy-editor would catch it and delete it.
I suppose this could be a valid excuse, but it is also a perfect ruse, an escape hatch by which the conservative Republican publisher of the newspaper Randy Rickman can protect somebody in the newsroom who might have been doing his bidding. I would say there’s a fair chance that, despite what he might say publicly, Rickman believes that Obama’s nationality is an open question. He would not be the only editor in Montana to hold such an opinion. Frank Miele, who runs the Interlake, is a proud birther.
Anyway, I doubt that a reporter will digging into the IR incident any time soon.
Civil War, Anyone?
Speaking of the Helena IR, and speaking of crazies, am I the only one who was surprised when a full weekpassed after Intelligent Discontent and this blog wrote about it before the IR decided to report the fact that the Montana Tea Party has mounted an effort to get Montana to secede from the Union? Unable to live under the terrible yoke of an Obama presidency, unwilling to move en masse to Canada or someplace else, and wholly approving of the actions of the Confederacy in 1860, the Tea Party in Montana and in many other states has launched a secession movement.
Like everything else the Tea Party does, this effort will flop because of consists of imbeciles who can barely read or write, let alone organize a mass movement. However, as with other Tea Party antics that humiliate the GOP with image problems, the IR decided to wait on reporting it until a slow news day with few readers, the day before Thanksgiving.
Fortunately, the Cowgirl Blog told the story shortly after it broke, which is why we continue to be Montana’s number one site for politics.
One of America’s top TEA Party imbeciles has called for President Obama to prove that he is eligible to be on the Montana ballot, or else have his name removed from it.
Bob Wagner, the Montana state representative who once told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that a person is ineligible to run for president unless both parents were born in America, is back at it again. Reviving Birtherism, Wagner has sent a letter to the Montana Secretary of State (she oversees elections), commanding her to
“prove that Obama is eligible to hold the office he usurped in 2008, or take him off the ballot.”
Wagner believes that Obama’s birth certificate is a fraud; and that even if the certificate were authentic, Obama would still not be a true American citizen because his father impregnated his mother while visiting America.
Alas, Wagner’s letter is the last thing Montana Republicans need right now. They swept the legislature in 2010 in a whirlwind of Tea Party hysteria, only to be utterly humiliated by Wagner and his crowd of Tea Party loons as they coopted the legislature and began passing crazy legislation, calling for an end to the United Nations and a reversion to the gold standard. It eventually proved such disaster for the GOP that the moderate Republicans fled the scene, and voted with Governor Schweitzer and the Democrats.
Schweitzer, meanwhile, had a field day kicking Wagner and his right-wing pals in the ribs. He even staged an event on the lawn of the Capitol building, where he pulled out a red hot cattle iron that said “VETO” and used it to “brand” a few crazy bills, Wagner’s among them. Rachel Maddow did a funny segment on it, highly recommended.
And there’s an even larger problem for the Montana GOP, a dark cloud on the horizon. If Jon Tester wins his race for the US Senate, there is a good chance that for the first time in history, Montana will not have a single state-wide Republican officeholder. Right now, the state’s at-large congressman, Dennis Rehberg, is the last GOP statewide politician, and he’s chosen to give up his house seat to challenge Tester for the Senate. All of the other nine state-wide politicians in Montana are Democrats, even though just over half of the state remains solidly and strongly conservative (Gore and Kerry got 33 and 36 percent in Montana respectively; Obama got 46, but its unlikely he’ll get much over 43 this time around.)
And with the continued antics of nutcases like Bob Wagner, Democrats have a bright future in Big Sky Country.
In fact, across the state they are launching campaigns to take over local governments: TEA Partiers are campaigning to take over the Helena school board, the board of trustees of the Flathead Valley Community College, and the Billings City Council (see the TEA Party action alert below the fold.)
Look no further for proof that the actions of the current legislature are making Montana a national joke than this video. (Once again, Montana newspaper editors missed out on a great story.) You really must watch as Anderson Cooper schools TEA Party Lawmaker Bob Wagner (R-Harrison) on his birther bill for a look at how our TEA Party legislators represent Montana to the rest of America.
And a note to the rest of the nation, this legislator is but one of many who have proposed outrageous, unconstitutional, extreme and pointless legislation in Montana. If you’ve found this story, you’ve only scratched the surface.